Wednesday, September 07, 2016
My Take on Young and Vivacious
It's been a really long time since I was called young and vivacious. In fact, I don't think I have ever been called vivacious because that is mainly for women. Thus, using the term vivacious is sexist. Is it sexist to note someone looks young for the job he or she has? I don't think so. To me it is a complement along the lines of "you must be really accomplished to have this position at such a young age."
These issues have come up at my law school because the Dean wrote an article in which the decidedly first world problem of being referred to as young and vivacious became something of deep importance. She, in effect, named names. It was so important that she wrote:
"Even more so, I would love to hear [Frug's] thoughts on what those statements mean about current constructions of law professors, law school deans, and the legal academy as a whole." It's all covered over on Above the Law in an uncharacteristically reasonable way.
ATL does a good job in one respect and an OK job in another. First, it notes that whatever points there were to be made could have been made without identifying the sources of the "hurtful" words. In fact, if the language really reflects on "current constructions of law professors, law school deans, and the legal academy as a whole" naming names is irrelevant. On the other hand, have you ever heard the statement that goes something like like "what goes around . . ." There is a bit of irony or karma here and it takes some explaining.
Given the timing of the legal publication, I suspect she wrote her own "hurtful" words at virtually the same time as the incident occurred and perhaps would have second thoughts about whether the statements really had implications that stretched to the legal academy as a whole. A bigger sample than 2 might have been useful.
As it turns out, though, if I have my timing and facts right, after writing those words and before the publication of the article, the two people named have, in my view, done the most to prevent the Dean from addressing the many issues that need to be addressed to give students the best possible law school and post law school experience. In a sense there may have been reverse justice. She wrote the words and then later the culprits earned them. One could say justice works in mysterious ways.
ATL does a so so job when reacting to the criticisms of the Dean. Evidently she has been cited for almost slandering beloved people who are all around good guys. ATLs' response, before it spirals into a rant in favor of more political correctness than most can stand without throwing up, is how empty defenses based on likability or reputation are when people screw up. If you have convinced others that you are a great, moral, and tolerant person then by definition, you can do no harm. Obviously one does not follow from the other and perception that people are great, moral, and tolerant can be deceiving. I am more inclined to make those decisions after seeing what people do when others are not looking rather than what they do for public consumption.